There was something that was bothering him. Something that nagged interminably but would not show its hand, Nor he, to respond except in kind. Fifty-three years old and accustomed to taking his life in hand step by step, there was no other way that he could see it. It wasn’t hard to see things any other way but from a sedentary point of view. Not a great one for exposing himself he might have been characterized as pensive, passive. or even shy. Life as a result had not traveled as far as he had. Not one who shied away from escaping his own prison there had been many escape attempts over the years/ England, France, even as far away as the other end of the world in Australia. Always like a crab, finding a shell to retreat within that served to buffer the effects of his surroundings. One and on, it had gone on in and out of relationships, exhausting personalities, outliving confidant’s and forebears. The thick glass to the exterior world though its surface showed scratches, it would not crack. Where things could go wrong he was protected.
The dreams of late that predicated each of his day had incrementally been becoming more desperate as of late. The usual wanderings through unfamiliar territory had taken on the threat of a personal identity lurking somewhere int he wings that while not directly threatening seemed inescapable, almost omniscient. Badgered by a lack of success in recent years his waking activities had become a game of survival by way of demonstrating immunity to all those emotions that formerly had him climbing the walls. Deaths had mounted up leaving little expectation that much if anything was left to anchor one;hopes on beyond the immediate present. This had been workable for a number of years but now a vague impression that whatever he was missing out on was tightening its grip upon him. A feeling of desperation. An unaccountable feeling that did not point in any specific direction. Certainly not the accumulation of a past that he had long since abandoned. He could hear it when he was alone. An extra heartbeat or two. Something waiting for him at the crossroads.
The cafe had started out empty when he had arrived two hours early. Not so much to attend the weekly jazz concert that was held with local neighborhood talent sometimes filling the small venue to capacity, But to find the chance of rediscovering the small modicum of company to fill up the vacuous time in-between until. His status over the last year or two had diminished to that of a local curmudgeon, A hanger on that was too conveniently present too often. A smelly fish as of late. No one had to tell him. It was obvious. Too many times present at special events. Every freebee never asked for but always offered was becoming intolerable to withstand. His leg felt caught in a trap that he could not barter his way out of with a mere trinket offered here or there. One’s that were usually of his own devising. How disappointing the specter of this unenviable character seemed to him as reflected. A matter of pride in being shown up for the most basic form of failure that society could not long tolerate. Poverty. With him not a matter of talent but application. The lack of long-term commitment in the enterprises of others was embarrassing. To apply non-existent resources to a situation of normal life was an impossible situation.
The band marched in one by one fielding their equipment like armaments. Several encounters were simultaneously in play beyond his own poorly disguised discontent. How could the frog turn himself into a prince and produce the magic coins? A brief attempt to set the rules in his favor to allow a more measured recompense backfiring. More charity resulting if not in actuality then in promise. The last attempt to to fight for some livable space now defeated. The only proper response was to leave the field. A short attempt to pass this off leading to a cold silence at a table in the lounge before a panel of judges who passed sentence with both their averted eyes and their silence. “Word gets around.“, he thought. The ride back to his condo wad a quality of emptiness that felt like another opportunity had been permanently discarded. While he might return there he could not allow for this same set of circumstances to reoccur. Trivial to the logic of others but damning to him. What he might have attempted with the best of intentions had now backfired. The shell was waiting to crawl back into. The world of dreams a place to once more be pursued even more diligently. No rest for the wicked.
The invisibility had hit him when he was sixteen years old. He was just there. A piece of furniture in other people’s drama. Sooner than later however hard he tried or how much he put himself out there the same old curse sallied forth and robbed him of the reward of having a place at the table. Some place that was secure. An expectation that he could never free himself of without engaging the opposite of total abandonment. Safety for him did not exist in numbers. It was a form of conquest made one by one. A pulling of the other into your milieu where they were for you and you were for them. The loss of a significant other or two or three along the way dispelling the concept into sheer fantasy. A fantasy that despite so much experience and hard won better judgment, he could not give up. The boy had worn his brand new blur shirt to the party. Then merely an hour later physically torn it off himself in an angry form of despair on his way back home. Once again a non-entity.